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Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka

StoryCorps Voices from Topeka - 60 Years After Brown v. Board of Education

The first grade class at State Street Elementary School, taught by Miss Hunt. It was taken in January 1955, shortly after Topeka elementary schools were racially integrated in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling in the Brown v. Board of Education case. Prior to this decision, which made segregated schools unconstitutional, State Street had been a school for white children only. (Photo Courtesy of Kansas Historical Society /

In May 2014, StoryCorps Facilitators found themselves in Topeka, Kan., working with The Kansas Humanities Council for the 60th Anniversary of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education desegregation case, whose decision was released on May 17, 1954.

The trip was part of the other many town-wide celebrations for the occasion, including a high school graduation ceremony with a special Baccalaureate speech delivered by First Lady Michelle Obama who also commemorated the anniversary.

StoryCorps: Legacy of Brown v. Board in Topeka (Michael Hooper & Sherman Smith)

Michael Hooper (left) talks to his friend, Sherman Smith, about their experiences in Topeka and their reflections on the Brown vs. Board of Education decision.

This year, we've been sharing stories about growing up in Topeka, in the shadow of segregation. As part of the 60th anniversary of "Brown versus the Topeka Board of Education," the Kansas Humanities Council sponsored a StoryCorps project last year. Today, we listen in as Sherman Smith interviews his friend and former co-worker Michael Hooper, who says discrimination still exists in Topeka.

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